News / Europe

Russia Seethes on Sidelines as West Prepares Syria Actions

Russia Seethes on Sidelines as West Prepares Syria Actionsi
X
August 30, 2013 8:12 PM
During Syria’s civil war, Russia has stood out as President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest ally. Now that the United States reportedly is preparing an aerial attack on Syria, where is Russia? VOA's James Brooke reports from Moscow.
Russia Seethes on Sidelines as West Prepares Syria Actions
James Brooke
Russia’s Navy is sending two warships into the Eastern Mediterranean, near the shores of Syria.
 
At the same time, Russia’s state-controlled TV shows President Vladimir Putin 6,000 kilometers to the east, touring flooded farmland in Siberia.
 
All week long, Russia’s president has kept quiet in public on Syria.

He is leaving his aides to do the talking as Western powers consider punishing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly gassing inhabitants of a Damascus suburb last week.
 
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted: "The West behaves like a monkey with a grenade in the Islamic world."

Military victory "an illusion"
 
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was more diplomatic about Western intervention in Syria’s civil war.

“If somebody thinks that by bombing the Syrian military infrastructure and leaving the battlefield for the opponents of the regime to win, they will end it - it is an illusion,” Lavrov said Monday at a press conference here. “Even if they win in such a way, the civil war will continue.  Those who represented the government side will simply become the opposition.”

International military deployments directed toward SyriaInternational military deployments directed toward Syria
x
International military deployments directed toward Syria
International military deployments directed toward Syria
​Russian analysts said that one or two days of punishing air strikes will not turn the tide of a war that has already cost 100,000 lives.
 
"Syrian regime will suffer a lot and it will lose some of its potential,” said Georgy Mirsky, professor of Mideast studies at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. “But Russia and Iran will make up for it. Everything will be compensated for this."

Mirsky and Russian parliamentarians say that Washington’s true goal today is the same as Washington’s past goals in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya - regime change.
 
Mirsky said that Russia will gain by doing nothing, calling such a position "extremely advantageous" to Russia.

"Now if the Americans engage in a war, in a new war they can't win, it is all the better for Russia," he said.
 
Blaming the rebels
 
Leaders of the United States and France said they are moved to military action by the alleged poison gas attack last week that reportedly killed 350 civilians and injured thousands more.
 
In the West, the prevailing consensus is that Syrian government soldiers carried out the gas attack, making it the latest escalation in over two years of attacks on civilians in opposition areas.
 
In Russia, diplomats and journalists have repeatedly suggested that Syrian opposition fighters gassed their own neighborhoods.
 
"Why is there such certainty that this was done by the regime while the arguments we're hearing are anyway not convincing?’” asked Vitaly Naumkin, World Politics faculty chair at Moscow State University. “It's incomprehensible. Why we can't wait for the (United Nations) inspectors to finish their work?"
 
Dissenting voices have been silenced.
 
Mahmoud al-Hamza, a Moscow-based member of the Syrian National Council, the opposition umbrella group, spoke to VOA.

"In the year since President Obama said that using chemical weapons crosses the red line, Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons and gas thirteen times," he said "This isn't the first time, and it won't be the last."
 
Al-Hamza says he is rarely invited to appear on Russian television.
 
“Two months ago, we wanted to hold a round table on Syria, and the special services warned us that they would arrest us,” he said, referring to Russia’s intelligence services. Speaking for opponents of President Assad, he said in Russian: “We don’t feel comfortable here.”

UN veto and evacuation
 
In the last two years, Russia has vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions for taking action against the Syrian government three times. Given the chance in coming days, Russia will undoubtedly cast a fourth veto.
 
Russian officials admit their ability to block the United States is limited. Even Minister Lavrov said Monday: “We are not going to fight anybody.”
 
A Navy official said Friday that the main role for Russian warships sent to Syria could be to evacuate some of the estimated 30,000 Russian citizens who live there.
 
The most Russia may do is snub President Obama next week when he comes to St. Petersburg for the G-20 summit. On Friday, a Kremlin aide said that President Putin will be too busy to do more than shake hands with the visiting American president.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Nick from: USA
September 01, 2013 7:29 AM
You are wrong when you say America wants to go to war in Syria. If America wanted to take military action we would have done so two years ago. The situation we find ourselves in has to do with principle. The world universally condemns the use of chemical and biological weapons and we unanimously declare their will be consequences in order to deter by anyone from using them. Then if someone uses these weapons does there not need to be a consequence, otherwise what is to keep someone else from using these weapons since the world has shown their will be no consequences for doing so.
The U.S. does not want war with Syria but we believe there needs to be a response for Assad using chemical weapons on his people. We do not seek to take over Syria, we would much prefer it if Russia, China, the UK, France, Turkey etc worked with us but countries do not want to come along we still see it as a job has to be done.

by: Blue_Sky from: Addis
August 30, 2013 9:33 AM
The only 'West' hoping to intervene right now is the USA, and sending warships is hardly classified as 'seething on the sidelines'. Even if you must go for hyperbole to drum up a vision of grandeur, one understand that there are limits too to that kind of thing.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs